Self

My Search For My "Seasonal Colors" Sent Me Down An Archetypal Rabbit Hole

Photo: herle_catharina | Victoria Chudinova | Maria Markevich | Halay Alex | Svitlana Sokolova | Shutterstock
Women with seasonal outfits

I don’t know about you, but I have always been quite predictable in what I wear. Call it personal style, or just habit, but I tend to pick out the same clothing choices and wear them again and again.

I almost lived in a festival-style rainbow-colored jersey one winter and favored my blue and white hoodie the next, so when the TikTok trend of seasonal analysis came along, I initially paid little interest. I thought it was irrelevant. Wasn’t it better to just wear what you loved?

   

   

Seasonal color analysis groups skin tone, hair color, and eye color according to 'season.'

The theory says that a person might have a coloring that harmonizes with the bright colors of spring, the softer, greyish colors of summer, the warmer autumn colors, or the more saturated colors of winter.

This seems simple, but it gets more complicated. People can then be in the light, dark, or midrange, and colors may be soft or deep. Seasons appear to blend. They can be hard to see or define. 

I noticed some of my friends showing their photos, asking which season they might be. Call me aesthetically challenged, but I couldn’t see at first.

Then I started to notice the striking winters, with their blue eyes and dark hair, and the bright colors that complemented them. I was still fairly dismissive. People didn’t limit themselves to those colors, did they? Not really. Seasonal analysis classified Alexis Bledel as a winter, but Rory from Gilmore Girls wore all kinds of earthy colors and looked fantastic. Must be one of those fashion rules you could just take or leave

Then some of the more serious people I followed began speaking about color analysis. Sustainability fashion activist Verena Erin showed her results in a YouTube video, saying they surprised her. She questioned limiting her clothing choices and has since discussed her personal style choices as sometimes different from her selected season. Anuschka Rees, author of The Curated Closet, on the other hand, has begun helping women to work out their seasonal analysis. 

RELATED: What The Colors You Wear Secretly Say About Your Personality

I wanted to find out more. I began to read about seasonal analysis and it seemed to be more than just a retro trend. Women spoke about feeling more comfortable in their personal style and making fewer mistaken purchases.

There was some debate as to whether it was inclusive (the images from the eighties were not) and some women have shared their experiences of being analyzed. I wanted to find out more, so I headed to YouTube, as you do when you want new information. And this is when I fell down a fascinating and somewhat confusing rabbit hole.

Ellie-Jean Royden has a fascinating video that presents the 24 archetypes found in David Zyla’s book Color Your Style. Royden shares four groups of archetypes as choices for women within a particular seasonal range and each personality is based on color.

The pixie, for example, a 'spring' type, loved the unexpected and could come through like a trouper. Summers were described as lush. Autumn includes the sexy librarian, whose style Royden compares to dark academia. This librarian is intellectual and can wear clothes with sharp edges. Then there is the romantic poetess, deeply spiritual and almost psychic, with the striking contrasts of the winter season.

Zyla’s archetypes were fascinating and sent me directly to his Pinterest boards, where all 24 archetypes are accompanied by beautiful images. I still had no clue as to my season but Royden has a video that shows how Zyla’s colors are established. Pinch your finger, Royden says, and it will show you the 'red' you should be wearing. She shows a chart of subtle reds, ranging from a fuchsia-type color to deep terracotta. Based on this, you can find your seasonal colors.

According to this, I was a spring. Woohoo! I liked the colors. Time to look at the spring archetypes on Zyla’s board. There were quite a few archetypes. I could relate to pretty much all of them, in some ways, and none of them in others. I could be quirky and unexpected. People have said I have a pixie-type face. 

RELATED: Why You Should Have More Than One Style Aesthetic

But Zyla’s boards are beautiful. There’s no end to the gorgeous styles he has put together. His book explained that women who show their 'true colors' or harmonize themselves effectively know who they are. Some women are made to be dramatic and to make a statement, Zyla said. When they get it wrong it can impact career and relationship success.

Suddenly this was serious.

This didn’t sound like a choice or a TikTok game of guessing the colors; this sounded like a very important concept that had to be right. It became clear to me that I needed to put in a bit more effort. Zyla has a red or romantic color that each woman has, and a dramatic or blue color which is shown in the veins. The ring around the iris represents the substitute for black, and the light and darker colors in your hair represent the brown and khaki choices. 

It should be fairly simple, beautiful, and easy. It’s one of the most intuitive ways of choosing colors and creating a palette. There are even TikTok effects that can help you pull your color chips together. I spent some time looking at the color boards people had created on Pinterest and how this aligned with a specific archetype.

Again it seemed intuitive. High contrast in color between skin and hair meant high contrast in clothing colors. Texture in skin and hair meant a higher texture in clothing. For people with freckles or hyperpigmentation, a mixture of similar colors looks great. Essentially, Zyla was adding features that complimented the women.

Seasonal analysis, or color theory, began to make sense. I loved what I was seeing. It seemed simple and intuitive. Until the personality elements came into it.

That should be simple and intuitive too. Zyla has different styles. There’s the cute, gamine woman, the earthy lady, the sensual beauty, and the classic beauty in each of his archetypes. In truth, it is about who you are and how you want to present to the world. Intellectual? How about the sexy librarian or the romantic poetess, depending on whether you are an autumn or a winter? Nurturing? There’s the earth mother or the keeper of the hearth. 

It should have been simple. Ellie Jean Royden found it simple. I started to panic. I could relate to too many of the archetypes/ Which one should I choose? Based on my personality I might not even be any of the spring archetypes. What if I was actually a different archetype already despite my colors fitting into the spring?

RELATED: What Your Favorite Clothing Color Says About Your Personality

It got more and more confusing.

The more I read, the more confused I got. Someone on the internet said that according to Zyla's classifications, she was a summer but thought she looked 20 years older in summer colors. She preferred spring and had even been classified as spring in other systems. Which other systems?

Well, there was Angela Wright, who had four types of color personalities, but all people with hazel eyes (like me) fell into autumn. These people were quirky and sometimes wanted to save the world. Really? All people with hazel eyes? Automatically autumn? The others weren’t saying that, but, oh heck! What did this mean for seasonal colors!? And. Just. Who. You. Are. Meant. To. Be.???!

In the end, I gave up.

Actually, I found another system that had a Type for people who couldn’t make up their minds, and who saw themselves as everything, and that seemed good enough. 

I don’t actually know which season I am or what suits me. I do have hazel eyes. I have also had a lot of psychotherapy which is probably why I can’t place myself into any easy categories without worrying which aspects of myself I might be giving up to do so.

Archetypes are fun and they make good fashion sense.

But have I found my colors and so found myself? I don’t think I have.

I do know what I like to wear, and what my eye is attracted to. Whether or not it suits me best is uncertain, but I love colors that make me feel happy. They aren’t autumn colors, despite my hazel eyes, but they do help my mood. Ultimately, it’s what I want to do. 

RELATED: 14 Popular Colors & The Spiritual Meaning Of Each

Nicci Attfield is a writer with a focus on identity, parenting, mental health, and the climate crisis. She has articles in Insider, Motherly, Yes! and Mindsplain.